Trenton - Legislation aimed at improving the turnaround time for unemployment claims at the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) passed the Senate today. The bill would allocate $50 million in federal funding to increase processing capacity, and is sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton and Senator Nicholas Scutari.
“Over one million New Jerseyans were out of work at some point during this pandemic. Even worse, some still have not seen one dollar of their unemployment benefits,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “While no one could have predicted the consequences of this pandemic, the current unemployment system is woefully outdated, and the New Jersey Department of Labor staff was simply not plentiful enough to address the full scale of this crisis due to years of reductions in manpower. Injecting this $50 million in federal CARES Act funding will help them meet the demands of this unprecedented economic crisis. We must make this investment in our unemployment system now. The men and women of New Jersey have waited long enough.”
“The amount of unemployment claims our district offices have faced since the start of the pandemic is staggering. My office alone has assisted hundreds of people. We have tried to help them as best as we can, but we often find that we cannot answer their questions and have to send them to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development,” said Senator Scutari (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset). “The department has done all they can, but they are still understaffed and working with antiquated systems. By providing them with federal funds, we could drastically improve their ability to process claims, allowing the unemployed to receive their benefits when they need them most. Using federal funds will help us avoid using state funds during this time of fiscal uncertainty.”
Under the bill, the federal funds would be spent in an effort to improve the unemployment claims process following the unprecedented spike in unemployment benefit claims filed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill, S-2488, was released from the Senate by a vote 39-0.